Luxe and stylish, yet eminently livable: that’s the hallmark of all of Thom Filicia’s design work. He’s become famous for the way he lends interiors an easy, uncontrived feel that we all long to possess but often aren’t sure how to achieve.
This aesthetic is nowhere more evident than in his newest furniture, art, and rug collections, being sold on Gilt Home starting Wednesday, July 25, at noon. Each has a different aesthetic, but all blend well together, demonstrating Filicia’s commitment to looking at timeless styles in a totally fresh way.
Gilt Home’s editorial director, Tom Delavan, talked with Filicia about these collections, his inspirations, and what makes American style so iconic:
Tom Delavan: How would you define these new collections as a whole?
Thom Filicia: They’re rooted in classic design, but have a fresh twist to fit the way we live today. The pieces feel authentic and new — not derivative. We put the collections into these four categories [American Ease, American Altitude, American Waterfront, and American Sophisticate], but by no means did I intend for someone to shop all in one category. They all work together. I like to mix materials — glass, metal, painted wood, stained wood, and textiles — to get a great combination of shine and matte, luster and restraint — but it’s controlled, so that it feels cohesive and isn’t intimidating.
TD: What’s your personal favorite of the four collections?
TF: That’s tough, but I’d have to say American Sophisticate. The fabrics and styles are sexy, and it’s got the most edge to it. That’s the one where, in meetings at my office, we look at all the pieces and it’s almost universally a collective “wow – that’s cool.” This is the line that I want to grow the most.
TD: Also, the pieces are so livable. That’s a major component of your work.
TF: Casual elegance is the backbone of this collection. I want it to feel both stylish and relaxed; ultimately, it’s there for comfort. There shouldn’t be any cordoned-off rooms or pieces in your home; a beautiful yet uncomfortable room doesn’t make sense. If you have things, you should use them – I’m a big believer in that. I have very few things that I don’t use. Whether they’re very expensive or inexpensive, I use all of them all the time.
TD: What demographic were you going for? Did you have a particular audience in mind when designing these pieces?
TF: I’m open to some demographics, but I did especially have one type in mind: young style-setters who have just graduated from their starter homes and have established a design point-of-view. They’re looking for pieces that are keepers. They’re thoughtful about what they surround themselves with. They like to cook and entertain.
TD: “American” is in the title of all these collections. What do you think characterizes American design?
TF: I felt like it was time we gave a fresh look to the classic, enduring lines of Americana. So much of the design around us is European-inspired, that I wanted to look to American design, and give it a sophisticated edge, so that it has the opportunity to be seen with fresh eyes.
TD: Your eagle console table exemplifies that. That’s one of our favorites.
TF: I wanted to take an iconic piece and give it a fresh, modern approach that it never had. I’ve done this piece in white and black, but also bold colors like hot pink. I have a Chinese-red one in my country house, as a pedestal for a sink. If I wouldn’t want to put it in my own house, then I wouldn’t want it in my collection.
TD: You make a lot of connections to fashion in your work, emphasizing the same details that make garments truly stand out. That’s definitely in evidence here…
TF: I always say this collection is like a really great navy-blue blazer — not a boring one, but one with enough interesting details to make it feel special and unique. Take a classic sofa, give it great biscuit tufting, and it gets new life. Put a great nailhead trim along the base in a cool, modern way, or fun piping details, then tailor it and give it unfussy lines.
TD: And the best thing is, these pieces are affordable to many.
TF: Great design should be accessible to most people. If you’re interested and work hard and want nice things around you, you should be able to have them. It’s what we’re trying to do with all of our collections, make them approachable and affordable — but we’re not cutting corners too much so that quality becomes an issue.
TD: Talk about your artwork collection with Soicher Marin. It ranges from bright geometrics to black-and-white NYC scenes. How does art function in a room?
TF: Not every home can have a house full of famous pieces of art. So why pretend with a bunch of bad reproductions? I felt a need for interesting, original pieces that don’t look like typical commercial art. They’re great pieces for the long term, or perfect placeholders for until you can afford that masterwork.
TD: Why did you get into product design? How has it inspired you or informed your personal design work for clients?
TF: I’ve learned a lot from a technical perspective. I know the springs that we use are all recycled metal, and I know how they’re strung together. I walk through the factory and go to meetings. I see and talk to the people who make the pieces, and that inspires me. I love to see people who are passionate about craftsmanship. When I look at furniture, now, I look at it with such a different eye, because I know what goes into making it. There are so many layers to it, and so much passion behind it.
TD: How does color play a role in design? How do you choose your colors?
TF: I don’t like any color that evokes one period, things that are kitschy or have that kitsch color. I was looking at a green the other day, and thought, “That’s so ‘80s.” I tend to like more universal tones that aren’t tied to one time period – shades that people can see as neutral. But it’s also a natural preference and choice. At some point, you just have to trust yourself, or you’ll be a follower.